The history of Hong Kong tailoring stretches
more than 100 years into the past, with its roots beginning in Shanghai, China. Shanghai was then considered an international mecca for tailoring talent, with many Chinese tailors learning their craft while abroad from the best Italian, Russian, and British tailors during their travels. Many of these expert Shanghainese tailors started making the move to Hong Kong in 1946 after China’s Cultural Revolution to seek better fortunes. There, their already international style of tailoring mixed with a completely distinct Hong Kong style, gave way to a number of unique techniques and styles that were found nowhere else in the tailoring world. The colonization of Hong Kong by the British ensured that Hong Kong tailoring also stayed true to the deep Western traditions of suit-making.
Today, these unique techniques and traditions are exclusively used and followed by the best tailors in Hong Kong, who have passed down these finely tuned methods from generation to generation, eschewing the modern technology that often tries to save many shops time and money. Put simply, they believe the best way is still the traditional way. If you’re ever at a Hong Kong tailor, ask if you can see the shifus (“masters” in Cantonese) work to watch their breathtaking chalk, line, and freehand cuts in action.
One of the biggest hurdles for people getting a tailored suit is the cost. The bespoke, tailoring process can be prohibitively expensive, as it involves making a suit from the ground up with every fabric decision, cut, measurement, and detail considered - the process can easily cost you over £5000 ($6500 USD).
But if you’re in Hong Kong, you’re in luck. You can get a bespoke suit with top notch service for a fraction of the price - around $800 USD. While the price is considerably lower, you can be assured the quality doesn’t take the same dive. As mentioned, most reputable Hong Kong tailors come from a long lineage of tradition, so certain standards are necessary. Another plus point: the best materials and wool are all still used and available in Hong Kong, sourced from the same venerable shops as in Milan and London. This means your Hong Kong suit will hold its own against even the best tailored suits in the world.